Interview: BJ The Chicago Kid Discusses 'In My Mind,' His Personal Style and More
On his way to the top of the charts, BJ The Chicago Kid’s newly released album In My Mind is officially in-stores now. The Windy City crooner's traditional take on Soul/R&B combined with the modern flavor he brings is enough to take us back to a musical era that is yearned for across the board from fans. With features from Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, BIG K.R.I.T., and more, this body of work is destined to be remembered as one of 2016's best projects.
The Chicago-bred singer recently teamed up with Footaction to host a private listening session at Noble New York on February 25, 2016 where the New York City's tastemakers and influencers could heard the album from beginning to end. Dressed in a comfortable Nike Tech Fleece crew shirt, Woven pants, and a clean pair of Air Max 1's, BJ spoke to VIBE about his incredible LP and his love for the Footaction brand.
“The first time Footaction and I ever collaborated, I was a kid,” laughs BJ during his conversation with VIBE. “That’s where I got my school shoes, that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party."
BJ sat down with VIBE and openly discussed the composition of the album, the current state of Soul/R&B, his relationship status and more.
VIBE: You just dropped your official Motown debut In My Mind, which by the way is amazing. How has the response been so far?
BJ: I have had nothing but good responses -- thank God! We put our all into this album, and everybody involved in it. We pretty much created it in thirty days, so I slept in the studio for twenty-seven days out of the thirty (laughs). I literally put everything I had into this project. I just hoped and prayed that people would feel it , and they do so thank God! We’re all happy!
Talk to us about the features you have on the album. Specifically, Chance The Rapper, Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar. How did you link up with them?
I’ve known Chance the rapper for some years now. I met himbefore the world began to know who he was… so I was able to understand Chance himself. He’s just an incredible creator outside and inside of music. Because we’re friends -- we don’t force the music. When it’s time we do it, and other times we enjoy the friendship.
Now, BIG K.R.I.T., 9th Wonder introduced us via the internet.
Yeah, through twitter! It pretty was incredible we had like two or three songs together before we met face to face. I met K.R.I.T. the first day I joined the “Kritically Acclaimed Tour” tour last year, and he is an incredible brother. The same guy he was online is the same guy he is in person.
Kendrick Lamar, I’ve known him for years, him, Top Dawg, Punch, Jay Rock, Ab Soul, School Boy Q - our relationship was there before the success, and I’m just happy to know them and learn from their success and help them celebrate the success as well.
So it seems like, the music came organically since you had these relationships beforehand.
Yeah, and I honestly I think your gift will always make room for you. So I trust in that and I rock out!
We've heard a lot of references about church and God throughout your career. And this album doesn't stray away from that. How much does your relationship with God influence your music today.
I definitely have a relationship with God for myself, and yes I grew up that way and I choose to keep the relationship that way. It’s real, that’s my balance. Sundays, I was in church and Monday through Friday I was with the knuckleheads having a little fun (laughs).
Now, lets talk about a woman’s worth!
What inspired the track "Woman's World" -- especially being that your are in such a male dominated industry?
Knowing the truth… knowing that I was birthed from a woman, you were birthed from a woman, we were all birthed from women. Also, understanding that if a man is married, if home ain’t right, he ain’t happy and she ain’t happy. As a man, if you’re married your happiness is with her happiness, if she’s unhappy everything’s messed up. It’s a woman’s world for sure.
A lot of the tracks on the album cater to women, and you have a ton of sexy referenced. Is there a special lady in your life right now who influenced all of this music? Who is giving you all of this ammo?
(Laughs) Hahaha nah, I don’t right now at the moment, but I am a young man and I live, and I learn.
In other words ladies, BJ is single and the album is 'for you'?
It definitely is for you (laughs).
What are your hopes for the new generation of R&B as a whole? A lot of people think the authenticity of it is gone. How do you plan to keep this genre alive?
From myself to Fetty Wap, to Ty Dolla Sign, to Ro James, to Luke James, the list goes on; we’re all singing to hold up the flag of what’s real and people are rocking with it. It’s not as popular as it used to be but that’s why we’re here…to balance out the skill.
How did the collaboration between you and Footaction begin?
The first time me and Footaction ever collaborated, I was a kid (laughs). That’s where I got my school shoes; that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party. That’s love.
How does your style influence and contribute to your artistry?
Style is a big part of my life. I used to work in retail before I was an artist, a lot of people didn’t know that. I was so good at selling clothes and shoes and just the lifestyle, that I could tell what size someone was wearing just by looking at them (laughs).